Lions keep an eye on vision health

Lions Club of Grand Cayman members visit First Baptist school to carry out eye screenings: From left, teacher Maylene Gangway, Dr Joanna Soutter, Lions Carmin Godfrey, Andrew Hulse, Colleen Burke and Adrian Neblett, with student Elijah Bain.

Each year on World Sight Day, the Lions Club of Grand Cayman, like many Lions Clubs worldwide, makes dedicated efforts to highlight the importance of eye health.

To bring awareness of blindness and vision impairment, Lions Club members have been visiting schools throughout Grand Cayman this week to help carry out vision checks on young students.

Globally on World Sight Day, Oct. 13, Lions Clubs will be instrumental in conducting vision screenings, eyeglass donations, restorative surgeries and eye health education programs.

For decades, the Lions Club of Grand Cayman has conducted annual vision screenings at public and private schools throughout the Cayman Islands.

“This is just one way in which the Club is working to provide vision awareness and care to children,” a press release from the Lions Club of Grand Cayman states. “Our program provides the opportunity for children who might not otherwise have access to vision screenings [or] eyeglasses as it provides for glasses and follow-up care as needed free to children in need.”

‘Eye Care for All’

The theme of this year’s World Sight Day is “Eye Care For All.”

“To show your support on World Sight Day and every day, we urge you to engage in discussions of eye health with persons in great need of eye care and those who seldom receive an eye examination to discuss eye services,” the Lions Club said in its statement.

Helena Cilliers, an ophthalmic surgeon based at the Lions Eye Clinic, pointed out that according to the World Health Organization, about 285 million people have visual impairment, of which 39 million are blind.

“How fortunate you are, because if you are reading this, your sight enables you to discern print and to see probably so much more once you start looking at the world around you,” she said.

“You will then notice that some people are struggling with their vision in everyday life, being part of the 4.25 percent having to deal with their visual impairment.”

Dr. Cilliers said 80 percent of visual impairment is treatable by correcting vision with glasses; having cataract surgery; and by having one’s eyes checked and treated for glaucoma. In Cayman and the Caribbean, where diabetes is prevalent, special attention needs to be given to eye care, as cataracts and glaucoma are more prevalent in diabetics, she said.

“Depending on the duration and control of [diabetes mellitus], diabetic retinopathy, if managed actively, can prevent the sight-threatening complications associated with this disease,” Dr. Cilliers said.

Annual screening for diabetics

She said the Lions Eye Clinic aims to establish an annual diabetic retinopathy screening service based on the WHO objective of saving sight. “By following the international guidelines set by this program, we will be able to significantly reduce visual impairment,” she said.

“Annual diabetic retinopathy screening for each person diagnosed with diabetes mellitus will be a long-term project, as this is in the early stages of planning and finding dedicated funding.”

For more information on how to obtain assistance for eye care or to donate used eyeglasses, contact the Lions Eye Clinic at 244-2818 or a Lions member at [email protected]